The incredible life of an incredible traveller

It wasn’t long ago that I read the story of a young New Yorker who left his job as a trader in finance to embark on journey around the world- a journey which Harry Devert undertook for the past five years. But I guess life is cruel in its own mysterious ways. His dismembered body was found in two plastic bags near a beach in south western Mexico.

He did jot down his incredible life, albeit short one in his blog, A New Yorker Travels. A self-proclaimed “gypsy at heart,” he describes himself as “I’m the owner of a big smile and a broad taste for adventure…I am a life observer, a world traveler…a thinker, an admirer.… I’m passionate about life and I LOVE living.”

His quest to experience the ecstasies and wonders of the world had taken him miles from home. “I know I’m lucky”, he wrote “because I’ve had the chance to see, touch, taste, smell, hear and experience so many of the world’s wonders.” The worldly materials didn’t seem to catch his attention as much as the wealth of knowledge, passion, love and life did. He penned, “I wish I did something that contributed to society, really helped people, was cooler…than speculating on the price movement of the financial markets, but…truth be told, it fascinates me.”

In his what became the last journey, he set out to experience what was a transcontinental motorbike expedition across the United States, through Central America and eventually—after stopping in Brazil for the World Cup—to the southernmost tip of South America. He was on his way to Zihuatanejo to visit the Pacific coast beach that was in the final scene of The Shawshank Redemption. Six months later, his motorcycle and brutally murdered body were found near La Majahua beach in Guerrero.

Bloodshed and irrational violence like the one that cut short this incredible life just doesn’t seem to be making any sense whatsoever. Harry himself opined,  “There is so much good and so much to love in this world I sometimes can’t understand how people find time to hate things or even find enough things to be upset about. I don’t think life is easy. I think life is beautiful.”

Seemingly a guy with such heightened sensibility, Harry described himself as “a simple guy, friendly, open-minded…not a guy who thinks he has the answers. I’m a guy with questions. A guy who loves monkeys, waterfalls and mangoes.” He was “a nature lover, an adventure lover, a music lover, a book lover, a sports lover, an arts lover, an animal lover, and above all a human lover.”

An early full stop to such an exemplary life could be tragic but Harry would probably disagree. There is an article in which he once wrote, “I doubt there’s anyone who, on their deathbed, ever lamented pursuing a passion, pursuing a dream; I imagine in fact it would be quite the opposite.”

The dream that he pursued, the quest that he celebrated and the life that all of us just think of but dare not live, Harry lived his life the real way. Here is an excerpt from his “Story in a Snapshot”:

“I’ve run with the bulls and broken 3 ribs because of it in Pamplona. I’ve spent time in a small jail in Paraguay, swum in the highest waterfall in the world and almost died swimming in a hurricane. I’ve climbed the highest Tepui mountain in the world and almost got stuck at the top of a mountain in Brasil until I made a rope out of vines and got myself down. I’ve sipped champagne on lazy afternoons with billionaires and sipped dirty water on equally lazy afternoons with the homeless.…

“I’ve slept on a beach in Rio, a bench in Barcelona, a street in India, a cave in Vietnam, a hammock in Laos, a floor in Venezuela, a board with 3 other people in Colombia and I’ve stayed in some of the world’s best hotels. I even slept in a castle once. I’ve run 3 miles to try and save a bird’s life, and I’ve sat and watched as someone was hacked to death with a machete only a few meters away from me. I choose my battles. I’ve been in the largest food fight in the world in Spain and eaten some of the world’s best in France. I’ve been chased with a gun in Colombia, chipped my tooth on a gun that was shoved in my mouth in Venezuela…[and] danced with a pirate on a beach in Peru.…

“I’ve taken a rowboat to a deserted island and fished for my food for a few days in the Philippines, ran out of food after a few days while exploring the jungle in Vietnam in search of the world’s largest cave, cut my toe almost completely off while jumping from the backs of moving jeeps in Thailand and managed to sew it back on with the help of a bottle of whiskey and a sock to bite down on. I’ve seen a baby being born and know there is some pain I will never understand. I’ve seen the sunrise over Angkor Wat, set over the Himalayas in Nepal and I’ve seen the Aurora Borealis in Iceland. I’ve hiked 20km barefoot in the rice paddies of Banaue and Batad, worked in rice fields for food and shelter when I spent all my remaining money celebrating the NY Giants Superbowl victory in a small town in the Philippines and worked at a coffee farm in the hills of Minca. I’ve trained Muay Thai in Thailand, worked at Mother Teresa’s in Kolkata, free dove a crystal clear cave no one has ever been to the bottom of and caught malaria working at a school in the jungles of northeast India.…

“I’ve charmed a snake and spent 10 days meditating 10 hours a day in an Indian ashram. I’ve trekked the Himalayas and found a love for swimming with and washing elephants in Nepal. I’ve tried to track a tiger in a jungle and spent an afternoon watching a rhinoceros take a bath. I’ve debated philosophy with scholars and with people who were illiterate and gained insight from them all. I’ve been in some of the poorest and some of the most dangerous parts of the world and to many of the finest, and I still can’t tell which I liked more. I think that life is a pilgrimage. My life is something like a small boat in the middle of an ocean driven by the weather and the tide. All I carry is faith. I dream, I search, I love, I live.”